France, Gernoble – Christina Ablewhite & Sophie Holcombe – 2006-2007
Living in campus accommodation…
Make sure that you send an email to your Exeter coordinator (Anne) soon after arrival with details of your address and telephone number for the year. This is important for when Exeter sends you documents relating to your studies and grant etc.
Journey to Grenoble
We flew from London Stanstead to Grenoble with Ryanair. From the airport in Grenoble, there is a bus that will take you to the train station in the town centre. A single ticket costs 4€ approx. (with a student card it’s 2€50). The bus service tied in with flights…avoid taking a taxi which costs at least 70€.
On arriving at the train station, you will need to get Tram B (‘Gare’) to the university; direction ‘Plaine des Sports’. We recommend that you buy a ‘Campus’ TAG card, you can pay monthly, or you can pay upfront for the year, which is worthwhile if you’re spending the whole academic year in Grenoble, and saves you having to top up your card each month. You can buy your TAG card at locations around the city (Tourist Office, TAG Office at the train station and the ‘Presse’ shop on campus). What you will need is your Student Card (they should accept your Exeter one), Form of I.D. (passport etc.) and a passport photo (they don’t keep it, just scan it).
If you can’t be bothered to fuss with buying a card straight away, you can buy individual tickets from the machines at each tram stop; just make sure you have change, or a carte bancaire, because they don’t accept notes.
We stayed in the campus residence Berlioz, so these are the directions if you need to get there (or to Ouest). Tram B will take you directly to the university campus, and near the Berlioz residence. All you need to do is get off at the stop ‘Les Tailles’.
To collect your room key, go to the ‘Accueil’, they are open 24/7. We arrived on a Saturday, which was quiet as opposed to others who arrived during the week and had to queue for at least an hour in the hot weather. Note: the rooms are not pre-assigned like at Exeter and we would recommend that you avoid a ground floor room (level 0).
Inventory form x 2: fill them both out, and return one to the reception. It’s just so you don’t get charged for damage already done to your room.
Note: no toilet paper is provided or bed linen, duvet or pillow – you can pick up all of this cheaply in Geant.
N.B. Not much around Grenoble is open on a Sunday; so if there is anything you need to buy urgently, arrive on any other day.
Residence Berlioz Rooms
The rooms are en-suite, but basically furnished with a single bed with mattress, desk, chair, shelving unit and wardrobe. Each floor has a kitchen but they only contain eight hotplates, some of which probably will not be working! The bedrooms are equipped with a mini fridge…there are no freezing facilities. The room contains a telephone through which you can receive incoming calls and make internal calls.
Do not leave your window open or tilting when out of your room. Also ensure that you lock your room even when in the kitchen. There were some incidents of breakings in during the year…be vigilant.
This is open Mon-Fri over lunchtime for a couple of hours – it seemed to only serve fast food.
You can buy vouchers (approx 2€50 each) at Restaurant Diderot on campus in blocks of ten. The food was not great but it’s cheap and convenient. There was also a snack bar at the Bibliotheques tram stop.
There is a Berlioz ‘laverie’ costing approx. 2€ for the washing machines and 2€ for 20 minutes in the tumble dryer.
There is also a laverie at the Bibliotheques tram stop on campus.
It’s a good idea to get a French mobile / sim card as it is cheaper and many people get one.
One of us purchased a French sim card from Bouygues Telecom, which was pay as you go. Note: In France, mobile credit expires as opposed to the UK where credit can be carried forward.
Another option is to go with Orange France. I bought a new phone including a sim card, which cost 35 euros. To top up the phone, I had to buy a ‘Mobicarte’ from any Tabac, available in different amounts.
French language course
We enrolled on the intensive French course, which ran during the first week of September. We were divided into different groups according to competency in French. It was quite expensive (230 euros) but was a great way to meet other Erasmus students and we managed to pick up 2.5 ECTS from it.
Have plenty of these – we took 12-15!
This is proof that you are a student at university. You will be given one for Exeter and you will receive one upon arrival at Grenoble from your French coordinator – make sure you get it because sometimes it’s needed when, for example, opening a bank account etc.
The nearest supermarket is Géant Casino located within 5 minutes walking distance from Berlioz. There are a few other shops here too including a good pizzeria. We signed up to get the Géant loyalty card (S’miles), which gave you discount on your shop.
Paying for your Logement
For this you need to go to the Berlioz Secretariat (located between the reception and the laverie, opposite the drinks machine). Payment has to be made from the 1st to the 10th of each month to avoid getting a letter of warning.
Mon- Fri: 08h30 – 12h00
Wed: 08h00 – 12h00
CAF (reduction in rent)
This stands for Caisse d’Allocations Familiales.
Go on the website www.caf.fr and click on ‘etudiant’.
Click on ‘aide au logement’ and then ‘votre premiere demande’. Go through some simple steps and you will download a PDF form.
This form needs to be stamped and signed by the accueil at Berlioz (or your accommodation accueil) and then get to tram stop Malherbe on line A and make your way to the CAF office.
We needed to take a photocopy of our passports and we also took our French bank account details (RIB) though these were not needed due to living in university accommodation. We were told that we would simply pay a reduced amount of rent.
We awaited a letter from CAF, which arrived after six weeks. The letter told us that we would each get 101€ (£70) off our monthly rent. Reductions are given from the 1st October
We would strongly recommend getting your CAF arranged quickly as the reduction is really worthwhile.
This is a card for train travel (similar to the National Rail’s Young Persons card) and gives you a reduction ranging from 25% to 60%. We purchased the card at Grenoble train station. It cost 49€ and was valid for one year. Note: when buying the card you will need a passport photo and student card.
The grant will be paid into your nominated bank account. Our first instalment was at the start of November and was about £1600. The second instalment arrived towards the end of April and was about £1000.
Exeter posted us a receipt to be completed and returned as soon as possible.
Note: English bank accounts received the grant a couple of weeks before the French accounts.
Insuring your room
Your room contract states that you require insurance; the place to go is SMERRA on the right of the ‘Grand Sablon’ tram stop, if coming from the university direction.
We chose to pay 26€ for the year, but there are other options. You can find out more information if you go there.
French Bank Accounts
I opened a French bank account with Credit Agricole before arriving in Grenoble, but I suggest you go with a friend if you’re not comfortable going alone.
N.B. French Banks do not allow an overdraft, I’ve heard that if you’re overdrawn, you lose your account and no other bank will let you open another.
Another option was to open an account with Societe Generale, which was very easy: I needed my passport and proof of my address.
There is no real point in choosing them prior to your arrival, but you might just have to as a formality. Don’t worry you can change your mind.
Getting your final timetable of classes before term starts is extremely doubtful. But no need to panic about it. They allow you roughly 2 weeks to try out classes etc before handing in a list of what courses you’re taking.
You may want to confirm when lectures begin (for us it was on the Tuesday) and the start date for each module (we showed up to something that didn’t start till the end of the week, not fun when it’s at 8am!).
We had the option of taking a couple of modules in English, which are a good idea if you are not so confident with your French.
Note: Ask Anne for copies of the feedback forms we filled out during the year about specific modules.
Regularly check them, because if there’s a room change/cancellation of a lecture, this is where it will tell you.
Berlioz Residence should have a Wifi connection, so you can access that from your room.
McDonalds (Victor Hugo) – Wifi; best to sit in the downstairs area, you’re not inclined to buy anything.
Haagen Daz (Victor Hugo) – Wifi; sit inside shop, inclined to buy something.
EVE (on campus) – Wifi; 3€ joining fee for the year.
You need a UPMF student card and login before they can set up your computer. In the meantime you can borrow one of their laptops for up to an hour at a time.
24/7 Computer Room on Campus – you will be given a swipe card and code allowing you to use this room (located near the Condillac Tram C stop). Use your login name and password as stated on your UPMF student card.
Joining clubs: during the first week of the term there’s the opportunity to join a sports club at the Halle Belledonne. Please note that social activities are not arranged by sports societies, but they are still a good way to meet French students.
The best bet is to join the University’s Ecole de Glisse which will cost 30 euros. The school organised trips to Deux Alpes and Sept Laux during the season. For example, the ski school provided a bus and free lessons on Thursdays and Saturdays to les Deux Alpes. It cost about 24 euros for the bus travel and the ski pass. The bus departed from campus at 7am and dropped you back at 7pm.
In terms of ski equipment, we hired skis, poles and boots from Decathlon (Grand Sablon tram stop) for a total of 80 euros from the start of January until the end of April. We had to take a cheque for the deposit (about 200 euros) and ID.
The ski school allowed you take out ski insurance for about 10 euros (for the air ambulance etc).
Make sure that you have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC – formally the E111 form). We believe that the EHIC is sufficient for hospital cover.
Another option is to take out Endsleigh ‘Study Abroad Insurance’: for further information go to www.endsleigh.co.uk/study-abroad-insurance.html.
The first lot of exams were in mid December (for IUP modules) and during the first week of January. Results were available six weeks after. Note: we advise that you do not book your flights home until you know the dates of your exams…exam week ran up until 22nd December and January exams started on the 3rd of January!
The second lot were during May time.
If you fail any exams, you can easily resit them by doing them orally with the lecturer – try to sort out resits asap.
Be aware that holidays are not as long as at Exeter – we got a couple of weeks for Christmas and Easter, though some got just a week. Luckily, you get a half term week off in November for Toussaint and another in February.
Ryanair operates a service between Grenoble and London Stanstead throughout the year. Easyjet starts a service during ski season, which flies to more UK destinations (i.e. Luton, Bristol and Gatwick).
It is worth looking into cheap flights to Rome, for example, for a change of scenery.
Places of interest
La Bastille is the main place of interest in the city and other places relate to the French Revolution, which began in Grenoble.
Other lovely trips out of the city would include Annecy, Chambery, Lyon, Geneva (two hours by train – remember to take your passport!) and Paris (only three hours away on the TGV costing 70 euros with the 12-25 card).
In town there are a range of stores, the main ones include Monoprix (department store with a small supermarket in the basement), Galleries Lafayette (department store), FNAC (music, books, dvds and electrical goods).
Grandplace (tram line A) is a shopping mall – H&M, Zara, New Look, Sephora, Esprit and Carrefour are some of the shops here.
If you feel like eating out, there are lots of really nice restaurants in town. Along the river there is a strip of reasonably priced Italian restaurants.
Alpine dishes include Gratin Dauphinois and tartiflette which are Grenoble’s speciality and definitely worth a try.
Here are a few restaurants we recommend:
- Ferme Didier
- Le Pain Quotidien (great for breakfast and lunch).
- La Fondue
- Les Archers (seafood)
- El Sombrero
- Le Biberon…
Bars & Pubs
- Couche Tard
- London Pub
- Styx (cocktail bar – very Sex and the City!)
- Barberousse (rum bar)
- Sun Valley
- Druids (Irish Pub)
- O’Callighans (Irish Pub)
- Bar Perroquet (you can sit outside here)…
- Vieux Manoir
- Tord Boyaux
Useful Telephone Numbers: Note: the dialling code for France is +33.
Taxi – 04.76.54.42.54
Police – 17.
Fire – 18.
Ambulance (SAMU) – 15.
If calling from a mobile, add 1 before the above numbers (i.e. 1 15).
- Enjoy it and make the most of it!
- Keep records of your grades as sometimes administration is a ‘little’ disorganised.
- Make sure you send back relevant documents to Exeter as soon as possible.
- Keep duplicates of documents.
- Keep your Exeter coordinator updated with changes to modules and addresses etc.
- Girls: avoid short skirts and avoid walking alone at night!
- Make French friends because it is very easy to stick with English-speaking students.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by email: